Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

The year10964 is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

 Goodreads / Amazon

When I first began to read Outlander, I wasn’t expecting all that it had to offer. To be honest, I almost put it away “for later,” which really meant that I didn’t want to put any more effort into reading it and probably would never pick it up again. I felt as if it was bogged down by detail, and Claire’s relationship with her husband, Frank, felt forced and dispassionate. They were hard words to swallow, but I kept going, unaware at this point of the following that this novel has. (Shamefully, I’d heard of the show first, and in my fashion, decided to read before watching.)

But then something took hold of me, and I couldn’t stop. Claire was catapulted from the boring life of a historian’s wife (although her time in the army was anything but) into the dangerous world of eighteenth century roguish Scottish Highlanders. Eventually, I came to appreciate and even look forward to Gabaldon’s vivid descriptions and abundant details, hanging on to each word for dear life, devouring all 850+ pages without any desire to reach the end.

Jamie and Claire are … epic. They’re brought together by necessity, and they’re loyalty, dedication, and love for each other is unrivaled. I enjoyed their banter and the violent sense of humor they had toward one another. Honestly, their relationship reminded me of me and my husband – neither one of us takes any shit from the other.

As for the ever-popular controversial scene where Jamie fulfills his duty in punishing his wife – I think people are overreacting. It was a different time, and in all honesty, she got off a lot easier than any man would have. Not only that, but Jamie wasn’t so brutish that he couldn’t see that the traditional type of relationship of the time wasn’t going to work for him and Claire. He did what was expected of him, and if he hadn’t done it, she would never have been forgiven by the other members of the clan. It wasn’t a scene of domestic abuse, but of someone receiving the punishment of the time for her actions, humiliating as it was for her.

Gabaldon’s writing style has a classic ring to it, maintaining a rhythm that’s easy to keep up with, which is important with the number of pages it covers. This book isn’t easy to put down, and there’s so much story that even the most serious of book lovers will be fulfilled.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction or romance, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Outlander as soon as possible. Then purchase a subscription to Starz and watch the show – because, really, this is one of those cases where the show is just as good.

Cheers!

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